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Books I Read in 2016

Again I've spent a year reading books (as you tend to do if you spend 3 hours every work day trapped on a train). Here they all are, summarized for my own amusement and also in case anyone is looking for book recs; or anti-recs ;)

Books 2016 - 1

At the Mountains of Madness: A Graphic Novel by H. P. Lovecraft, illustrated by I. N. J. Culbard
One of my favorite Lovecraft stories, illustrated expertly! For those not familiar with Lovecraft, or this particular story of his, it's a warning written by a researcher about terrible things he and his team found in the Antarctic. Let's just say this is the story that inspired the book behind the movie The Thing.

The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time #4) by Robert Jordan
This was the last Wheel of Time book I could make myself listen to the audio book of. There were just too many unimportant, endless descriptions. I needed to be able to skim the text to last a little longer (but the casual sexism finally did me in, later on).

The Troop by Nick Cutter
This was a rather 'meh' read for me. The story features a boy scout troop who get stuck on an island during an outing, trapped with an escaped government experiment. What follows is body horror and a ton of horror story clichés (the troop even has a member who tortures kittens... yeah, really). Recommended for people who like gore and a predictable horror plot with pretty typical horror characters.

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
A haunted house story that relies heavily on Christian religious horror(i.e. not my cup of tea, being an atheist and all). Also, apparently based on real life events, which I was too Swedish to realize until I'd read it all. Don't think I recommend it - it had some creepy moments, but, again, basically RPF.

Books 2016 - 2

The Dyslexia Debate by Julian G. Elliott & Elena L. Grigorenko
It's been a long time since I last read such a thourough, well worded and easy to follow book on reading and writing disabilities; the diagnoizing of which is my job (yes, my first language is not my first language). It's a little controversial, at least in Sweden, but it argues its points well. An important read if you're studying reading/writing difficulties!

The Fires of Heaven (The Wheel of Time #5) by Robert Jordan
This is where I gave up on the Wheel of Time series. The plot went nowhere, the characters were all the same character (well, two characters, "Weird Stereotype of Women" and "Weird Stereotype of Men"), and...yeah, just, so many microagressions. So many.

Cirkeln (Engelfors #1) by Mats Strandberg & Sara Bergmark Elfgren
(Linked review is in Swedish). Five teenagers find out they are witches, needed to fight darkness. A fairly basic premise, with some interesting twists (the story felt very Swedish, to me at least). My mom is actually the one who got me into this series; and she's been awaiting on me to read it for far too long. It's an interesting read, even though urban fantasy and teenage angst generally isn't my thing. Will continue reading, eventually.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The first time I read this book I really didn't get it. I went into it expecting fantasy adventures. If you're looking for that, this is not the book for you. On the other hand, if you're looking for a fun satire on the theme of privilege, I definitely recommend this! Also, maybe watch the BBC mini-series first? That's what got me to re-read the book, because I fell in love with the characters in a way the book didn't make me love them, and I just wanted more of them. So yeah, try the book. If you don't like it, try the mini-series and then return to the book. It's really funny :)

The Deep by Nick Cutter
As a horror fan I enjoyed this story fairly much. The best parts are at the star and middle. The end sort of ruins the mood for me, like so many horror stories do, with too much explanation. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a fair part of the planet's population have succumbed to a mysterious wasting disease, like Alzheimer on steroids. The plot follows a veterinarian, the brother of a famous scientist, who gets called to the under sea work place of said genius brother for a reason unknown to everyone else – even the veterinarian. The rest is psychological horror and body horror.

Books 2016 - 3

Pyongyang by Guy Delisle
I, naturally, don't know much about North Korea. Well, nothing more than what's been on the news and the occasional documentary. Getting a look at everyday life, even when told by an outsider, was ...not an eye-opener, I would say, but humanizing. Still want to get more information from actual people who live there, when I find the time (comic books are much easier to read through in a short amount of time than a book – I get enough dosage of Sad Things in my day job that I have to steel myself for reading about them in my off time; even though knowing such things is improtant).

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories by Susanna Clarke
If you liked Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - book or mini-series – read these short stories! But make sure you know the characters first and the sense of humor, or these stories might not make any sense to you.

Kallocain by Karin Boye.
(Linked review is in Swedish). This is the most hopeful dystopia story I've read in a long time. In a world much like 1984 and Equilibrium where loyalty to the state and emotional control are imperative to survival, this story brings up how very human we humans are. Even under extreme conditions there will still be plenty of people who'll love and be loved, who'll reach out to help strangers, who'll care. So even if the main character isn't a great savior who fixes everything the reader knows the battle for human-ness will continue. Strangely uplifting for a story all about manipulation and dehumanizing humanity.

Railsea by China Miéville
Starts out as a steampunk-ish parody of Moby Dick and ends up somewhere much more interesting. This story had many more interesting metaphors, similes and experimental likenesses to reality than I'd expected from the blurb on the back of the book. Worth a read!

The Cloud Roads (The Books of the Raksura #1) by Martha Wells
My absolute favorite book discovery of 2016 – thank you, Yuletide! I've been meaning to read this since I first heard of it during Yuletide 2015, but didn't get around to it until 2016 for life reasons. These books follow Moon, a humanoid young man who can shapeshift into a winged gargoyle lizard type creature. He lives in a world void of any traditional fantasy creature, be they elves, dwarrows or humans, and it is a very well set-up world! His story starts out fairly typical, him not knowing what species he is and living a fish-out-of-water life traveling from settlement to settlement, trying to fit in. The best part of the story starts up when Moon finds out what he actually is, in a plot twist that breaks a lot of stereotypes, gender roles and general fantasy book clichés. It's beautiful, if you're into that sort of thing (as I clearly am).

Books 2016 - 4

Brändövägen 8, Brändö, tel. 35 (Brändövägen 8 #1) by Henrik Tikkanen
(Linked review is in Swedish). My dad recommended this book to me when I said I'd like to get better at writing shorter descriptions. My dad and I...really don't share taste in literature. I had to force my way through this and almost fell asleep several times. The language itself was okay, but not my cup of tea. The autobiographical story was all over the place. Not continuing this series.

Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3) by C. S. Pacat
I had such reservations regarding picking this series up, thinking it would romanticize slavery and sexual abuse. Boy was I wrong! Instead consent is definitely a big issue discussed in this series and you stay for the political intrigue. I was invested in the romance, invested in the politics and very invested in the revenge part of said politics. A great conclusion to this trilogy; I'm definitely reading the side stories!

The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien (& Christopher Tolkien)
As much as I love the world of Middle-Earth and its rich history, the dry history book format almost ended me. I honestly fell asleep several times and kept losing track of who was who in the less central-to-history stories. You can tell this was meant to be personal notes for the author and not stories for an audience. Still very interesting history! So if you like Tolkien...find an illustrated comic version of these events? Maybe? Just a tip!

The Serpent Sea (The Books of the Raksura #2) by Martha Wells
Let's put it like this: I've joined Martha Wells' Patreon, I've joined a fan community both on livejournal and dreamwidth, I offered to write for this fandom in 2016's Yuletide, and when I've finally recovered from my almost-burn-out I'm going to write fanfiction set in this universe for sure! I may also want to start a post-by-post rpg set in this world. I just adore it to pieces. It will take much to make me stop squea about this series. Squea!

Books 2016 - 5

Parasit (Peeps #1) by Scott Westerfeld
(Linked review is in Swedish). I got this book pitched to me as a more realistic take on the vampire myth, in a modern urban setting. That's how the story started out, and I enjoyed it; especially the parts with information about real life critters and crawlies that will mess humans up good. Then it turned into your standard Young Adult romance/supernatural/adventure thing and I lost interest. Not continuing the series.

Stories of the Raksura: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud by Martha Wells
Backstory! Squea!

Welcome to Night Vale (Night Vale #1) by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
I recommend the audiobook, even if you've never heard the show. The language used in this book is best conveyed through spoken words, I find, even though it's not a play or radio show script. Being familiar with the Night Vale show also helps your enjoyment. If you don't like Welcome to Night Vale the podcast, this won't be for you.

The Siren Depths (The Books of the Raksura #3) by Martha Wells

Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells

Books 2016 - 6

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Now that I've read the book I can see why people were so utterly disappointed with the movie adaption (which lost me on the "let's dress up as other races"-issue rather than any technical or script-based problems). There are six stories here that flow seamlessly into each other, even if they have little to nothing to do with each other. Each story is interesting and so very different in genre from the one before or after. Mitchell really knows how to weave stories in a multitude of genres! Also, these stories take more risks regarding important social issues. Definitely a recommended read!

Thorgal 1. Vikingen från stjärnorna (Thorgalkrönikan #1) by Jean Van Hamme, illustrated by Grzegroz Rosiński
(Linked review is in Swedish). Pure nostalgia trip for me. I first read the stories of Thorgal in "The Phantom" comics of my teenage years. Thorgal, who looks human and grows up in a Viking village on Earth, turns out to be a humanoid alien. This blew my ten-year-old mind back in the day. I have some issues with the story as a whole now that I'm all grown up, but it's still entertaining and the artwork is beautiful.

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar
If you're interested in horror and have looked for such things on the Internet you've likely stumbled upon the tragic story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident; the very much true story of how several young, experienced hikers were found dead in the Dyatlov Pass under mysterious conditions. Seeing as real people were involved I'm glad this book took the time to acknowledge that and focused very heavily on finding an explanation for their seemingly unnatural deaths; for the sake of their families as well as future visitors to said pass. The answer the book gives isn't guaranteed, since we don't have a time machine, but it is well argued and worth the read to find out.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Finally my kind of horror! The kind were enough is left unexplained so that the horror remains, but that still pays off its build-up! The story follows a woman and two four-year-old children who live with her in a boarded up, dirty house, clearly after some sort of apocalypse. Inside the house they can move about fairly safe, but as soon as they go outside they must wear blindfolds. Why? Well, no one knows why for sure. There is evidence that something is out there, that can turn you into a self-mutilating serial killer if you look at it. The evidence is, however, not absolute, and no one knows why these 'things' are here or what they want, if they want anything. We get to follow the woman and the two children as they – blindfolded – finally decide to escape from their house, to seek out other humans. As we follow their flight we also get flashback to the woman's life before the apocalypse, explaining how life went from ordinary 21th century life to this. See, there used to be more people than the woman and the children in the house...

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
The story of a woman who as a girl was signed up for a reality show about exorcism. Prepare to be sad! That's all I have to say about this book. I didn't find it scary in the sense I was looking for – horror story scary. More scary in the sad, life-can-be-cruel kind of adult fear scary.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
A woman is found dead, an investigative reporter sets out to find out why. Somehow it all ties back to a mysterious horror film maker who's gone underground a long, long time ago. Read it for the mystery, tolerate the characters and their heteronormativity ;)

Där världen heter skog (Hainish Cycle #2) by Ursula K. Le Guin
(Linked review is in Swedish). Le Guin uses a made-up planet and its people to show case the horrors of colonization. It's an excellent read, highly recommended! Though you will be sad. Horribly sad. Prepare cute cat videos on Youtube as post-book recovery help.

På andra sidan drömmen by Ursula K. Le Guin
Horror and science-fantasy all in one! This story follows a man who can dream different realities into being, and the psychologist who uses him to create "a better world". It's just as creepy as it sounds. Recommended!

Books 2016 - 7

Exilplaneten (Hainish Cycle #4) by Ursula K. Le Guin
(Linked review is in Swedish). A planet where seasons can last years and where there are mysterious, close to unkillable creatures that come with winter. Yeah, I'm wondering if George R. R. Martin read this before starting A Song of Ice and Fire XD Easy to read and as always with Le Guin's work it leaves you thinking.

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix, illustrated by Michael Rogalski
A horror comedy book about a IKEA rip-off called ORSK. Amy, who works in one of ORSK's stores, gets dragged into keeping watch one night after unexplained break-ins. What happens afterwards is like a dark episode of Doctor Who with less space travel. Also, the book is shaped like an ORSK catalog.

Berättelser från Orsinien (Orsinia) by Ursula K. Le Guin
(Linked review is in Swedish). The first book written by Le Guin that I had to force my way through. The short stories here are all about a made-up country called Orsinia. It's a very realistic country, which wasn't my cup of tea I must admit. Historical fiction is something I sometimes seek out, but when it comes to historical fiction about made-up places I prefer them with more dragons or magic or cosmic abominations ;)

A Fisherman of the Inland Sea (Hainish Cycle #8) by Ursula K. Le Guin
Now these are short stories more to my taste! All very interesting looks at made-up culture and technology. Also the place where the concept of "sedoretu" – a four person marriage – comes from. I need more sedoretu in the fiction I read :D

Skymningslande by Ursula K. Le Guin
A wonderfully horrifying take on the "humans find a way into a secret fantasy land" trope. Recommended!

Books 2016 - 8

The Edge of the Worlds (The Books of the Raksura #4) by Martha Wells
I think it's clear what I think about the Raksura books by now :D I NEED MOOOOREEE!

Vägen vid havet by Ursula K. Le Guin
(Linked review is in Swedish). Again, Le Guin is a great writer, but historical fiction about made-up places isn't my cup of tea. My mother, who is a lover of more "realistic literature" than I am – though she loves fantasy too – also had trouble getting through these stories. Just not our thing I guess.

Utrensning (Kvartetti) by Sofi Oksanen
This is a great book and I never want to read it again. It's the tale of two women, one old who has survived a war, and one young who's fleeing from forced prostitution. It's a very well written, very graphic and very emotional. I do recommend reading it, but prepare yourself mentally and do the self-care thing after you've finished.

The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin
A thought provoking look at what anarchy means! Likeable characters, but most of all a great start for discussions about different ways of life, without any way being preached as "the best".

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two by John Tiffany, Jack Throne, J. K. Rowling
Oh boy. I know this being a stage manuscript means I'm missing a lot of important visual information, but oh boy. Unlike the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie, which was a fun adventure where I felt Rowling's authorship, this just felt like spaced out fanfic. I do love fanfiction, but sometimes it just goes haywire, like here. I mean, that scene with the trolly witch was just weird and there were so many illogical not-adult things a lot of adults did. Most of all that squicky pollyjuice scene with Hermione and Albus Severus... I'm sure the actual play is an experience, but if you're one of the rare people who haven't read this, you're not missing out.

Books 2016 - 9

Rocannons planet (Hainish Cycle #3) by Ursula K. Le Guin
(Linked review is in Swedish). An interesting science fantasy story, though hard to describe. Recommended!

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It presents itself (or at least most review and the blurb presents it as) as a fantasy take on Ocean's Eleven and it starts like that. Then it goes full Tarantino movie, swings back towards Ocean's Eleven and sort of hovers between the two moods awkwardly. It's also hard to describe the story, since it's all over the place. I've actually read the second book and enjoyed it much more, so I'll continue the series, but the first book was a bit of a hurdle to get through.

Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant #1) by Derek Landy
A fun read I picked up for a book club I'm in. It's urban fantasy with loads of sarcastic humor, which I enjoy. Liked the world-building too, even if they were quick to kill off a lot of central characters – kind of something I'd have waited to until at least the second book, toppling the order you've just established in a world. But amusing and thrilling all the same! Will keep reading this series. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: books, recs

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